April is National Facial Protection Month… Let’s talk mouth guards!

athletic mouthguardHave you ever dropped a smartphone on a hard floor, and when you pick it up, you see that a web of cracks has bloomed across the glass? In retrospect, you know a case would have helped. A good case will absorb the shock of the fall and disperse that energy to prevent the phone from suffering damage.

Think of mouthguards as a sort of case for your teeth. They can absorb or disperse the force of an impact to your mouth so your teeth remain unharmed. And when is your mouth likely to receive impacts? When you’re playing sports. We’re talking about baseballs to the face, hard tackles in football on the ground, or basketball elbows flying into your jaw. Mouthguards are also a good idea for non-contact sports like biking and skateboarding where a fall can still harm your mouth.

And it’s important to protect your teeth. An impact can result in fracturing, chipping, or damage to the nerves inside a tooth. If a tooth is knocked out (avulsed), the cost of replacing it can cost more than $5,000. Meanwhile, a decent mouthguard costs maybe $40.  Not to mention the damage that can be caused to your brackets and wires without a proper fitting mouthguard!

boy holding soccer ballThe American Dental Association estimates that one third of all dental injuries are sports related. If mouthguards were more frequently used, it would certainly cut down on the number and severity of oral health injuries.

Mouthguards are designed to fit directly over your upper teeth, which typically face the most risk, and some models are “dual-arch,” meaning they have a component that fits over your lower teeth as well. Mouthguards come in all sorts of formats and designs, of course. Choose colors that match your team colors. Some people might like the ones that show fangs or snake eyes when the lips are slightly open. They work well for intimidating the opposing team.

Whatever you choose, the mouthguard should fit comfortably and allow for easy breathing.  There are mouthguards made specifically for braces wearers to protect your mouth and braces from impact.

Dr. Thurman can create custom mouthguards for athletes, and they’re not that expensive. If you’d like us to make you a set or if you have any questions about choosing the right mouthguard and how to use it properly, just ask us during your next appointment.